Ode to Shanah Trevenna

Photo: University of Hawaii

Samuel Rosenzweig | July/August 2011 issue
When graduate student Shanah Trevenna approached her professor with a proposal to make Hawaii a self-sustaining state, she didn’t get the reaction she had in mind. Jim Dator, her professor and future adviser, told Trevenna that the combination of local politics and rigid rules at the University of Hawaii (UH) made large-scale change next to impossible. Despite the lack of support, Trevenna stayed true to her belief that Hawaii could become a global leader in both food and energy sustainability, even if experienced locals were doubtful.
Originally from Canada, Trevenna left a lucrative engineering job when she found out that her work was hurting people and the planet. She entered a doctoral program in urban planning and political science at UH hoping to become an agent of change and to inspire her peers to create a more sustainable campus and state. Since entering the university, Trevenna has run a student group called Sustainable UH and has been a leader in the green movement on campus. Her team was able to reduce the energy bill of Saunders Hall (one of the largest classrooms on campus) by $150,000 without spending a cent of the school’s funds. Trevenna, a featured speaker at renowned conferences like Harvard’s Sustainability Institute, foresees becoming a professor at the University of Hawaii and would like to create a world-class institute for studying and implementing the principles of sustainability.
Combining her love of island culture, surfing and an interest in developing sustainable wave power, Trevenna has written Surfing Tsunamis of Change, what she calls “a handbook for change agents.” Although Trevenna initially found herself in a culture resistant to change, with a lack of recycling and renewable energy, her work and team are now known throughout Hawaii. In her new book, Trevenna sums up her mission: “Even though working toward change brings up every resistance imaginable and it takes everything in us to overcome the challenges, it’s ultimately an exciting and rewarding existence.”

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Ode to Shanah Trevenna

Photo: University of Hawaii

Samuel Rosenzweig | July/August 2011 issue
When graduate student Shanah Trevenna approached her professor with a proposal to make Hawaii a self-sustaining state, she didn’t get the reaction she had in mind. Jim Dator, her professor and future adviser, told Trevenna that the combination of local politics and rigid rules at the University of Hawaii (UH) made large-scale change next to impossible. Despite the lack of support, Trevenna stayed true to her belief that Hawaii could become a global leader in both food and energy sustainability, even if experienced locals were doubtful.
Originally from Canada, Trevenna left a lucrative engineering job when she found out that her work was hurting people and the planet. She entered a doctoral program in urban planning and political science at UH hoping to become an agent of change and to inspire her peers to create a more sustainable campus and state. Since entering the university, Trevenna has run a student group called Sustainable UH and has been a leader in the green movement on campus. Her team was able to reduce the energy bill of Saunders Hall (one of the largest classrooms on campus) by $150,000 without spending a cent of the school’s funds. Trevenna, a featured speaker at renowned conferences like Harvard’s Sustainability Institute, foresees becoming a professor at the University of Hawaii and would like to create a world-class institute for studying and implementing the principles of sustainability.
Combining her love of island culture, surfing and an interest in developing sustainable wave power, Trevenna has written Surfing Tsunamis of Change, what she calls “a handbook for change agents.” Although Trevenna initially found herself in a culture resistant to change, with a lack of recycling and renewable energy, her work and team are now known throughout Hawaii. In her new book, Trevenna sums up her mission: “Even though working toward change brings up every resistance imaginable and it takes everything in us to overcome the challenges, it’s ultimately an exciting and rewarding existence.”

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